One of the most fascinating aspects of working in an archives is what you discover while looking for something else. And I’m always looking for something! As University Archivist and Curator of a wide variety of collections, I am frequently poking around in boxes and folders in our (secure and climate-controlled!) stacks in search of the odd document, image, report, study, letter or bit of ephemera needed to answer a question, illustrate a point or present to a class. On a recent hunt for something interesting and unique to post for the January “Item of the Month” I thought to combine the desire to highlight a recent acquisition and resulting inventory with the upcoming 150th anniversary of the American Civil War (hostilities began April 12, 1861). Recalling a series of notecards labeled “Connecticut Civil War soldiers” in the recently inventoried Albert Van Dusen papers, I thought how perfect this would be. A newly accessible collection and primary materials brought to light in time for this significant anniversary!
As you can see from the images below, our conscientious copying of Dr. Van Dusen’s box labels was not useful in my search for Civil War materials but I did discover a new resource to share with those interested in Connecticut’s involvement in the American Revolution. A wonderfully unique and delightful discovery–but not what I was looking for. And so it goes. Keep this in mind if you’re interested in commemorating the 236th anniversary of the beginning of the War for American War of Independence on April 19, 2011!
Betsy Pittman, University Archivist